Hours after introducing its first-ever hybrid model back in August, Land Rover set out on a 10,472-mile (16,853-km) expedition across Europe and Asia. Fifty-three days later, the company is pleased to report that its world-first hybrid journey along the Silk Trail was successful.
Land Rover called the trip from its home in Solihull, UK to the Mumbai, India home of parent company Tata the "final extreme engineering sign-off test" of the Range Rover Hybrid. The 300 GB of data that it collected along the way were forwarded back to its engineering team and will be used to tweak the engine and transmission software for performance in all types of extreme terrain, altitude and temperatures.
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“In developing the hybrid-powered Range Rover, our objective was to gain hybrid’s fuel economy and carbon emissions advantages without compromising the Range Rover’s go-anywhere capabilities, its cabin space or its refinement," explains Peter Richings, Jaguar Land Rover Hybrids and Electrification Director. "The success of this remarkable expedition clearly demonstrates we have achieved that.”
Three prototype hybrids, along with four support vehicles, made the voyage over pothole-riddled roads, slope-hugging mountain passes, water crossings, hot desert dust, and chaotic, traffic-filled thoroughfares. They reached altitudes up to 18,044 ft (5,500 m), including spending a week straight between 11,000 and 17,648 ft (3,350 and 5,379 m). Navigating between high mountains and shadeless deserts, they endured temperature fluctuations between 14 and 109ºF (-10 and 43ºC). Mechanical issues included 15 punctured tires, four damaged wheels and four cracked windshields.
In the face of all the adversity, the hybrid prototypes were still able to deliver a typical fuel economy around 36.5 mpg (6.4 L/100km), according to Land Rover. Not surprisingly, given the rugged nature of the journey, that's short of Land Rover's estimated 44.1 mpg (5.3 L/100km) combined capabilities. Land Rover credits the instant torque of the 35 kW motor, which assists the 3.0-liter V6 turbo-diesel engine, for helping the team keep pace in the ICE-stifling thin air of high-mountain terrain.
In the end, the Land Rover convoy completed 10,472 miles over the course of 53 days, winding its way through France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China (including Tibet), Nepal and India. Land Rover says that its navigation of China’s rugged, mountainous Xinjiang-Tibet highway was a first for an out-of-country vehicle.
Now that that's out of the way, Land Rover can move closer to Range Rover Hybrid production. It plans to begin delivering the new model in select markets during the first quarter of next year.
Source: Land RoverView gallery - 21 images